THE VISTA: October 2023

This has been an emotionally heightened month worldwide as we confront the violence in Israel and Palestine and a rise of hate speech and violence in the US and globally. If you are not familiar with the history of the region, this short video from Jewish Voices for Peace is instructive.

More than ever, how we talk about violence and this conflict matters, as described by our close colleague Rachel Brown from Over Zero. Please take the time to read this important perspective from a life-long peacebuilder and friend of Horizons’ Lisa Schirch, Scaling the Wall of Grief in Israel and Palestine as well as Masha Gessen’s The Tangled Grief of Israel’s Anti-Occupation Activists. There is an alarming surge of antisemitism around the world, as well as growing anti-Muslim actions that we should all be standing in solidarity against. This month, the Greater Good Science Center provided a list of resources for peace and conflict that explores the roots of peace, war, and reconciliation; offers resources for well-being and activism; and reminds us of human goodness.

At Horizons, we believe that our global struggles for justice, democratic values and civic freedoms are deeply intertwined, so we celebrate the recent pro-democracy electoral win in Poland; grieve with the recent defeats in Australia for indigenous rights and in India for LGBTQ+ rights; and will continue to learn from the mobilization efforts in Latin America and beyond.

And finally, as part of our Pillars of Support project our colleague, Sama Shah, recently published an article entitled Faith in Democracy: Mobilizing Religious Communities for Democratic Change.

Here are some additional resources that we have been reading, watching, and listening to this month:


Why Anti-LGBTQ Attacks Matter for Democracy

by Ari Shaw, Council on Foreign Relations

Ari Shaw shares the findings from their recent report on the linkages between anti-LGBTQIA+ policies and democratic backsliding across 175 countries. They find that, “Anti-LGBTQI+ attacks create a wedge that defines sexual and gender minorities as outsiders and threats to a core national identity. This fissure can then be used to justify subsequent antidemocratic behavior in the name of protecting ‘the nation.’” Additionally, they highlight that supporting the LGBTQIA+ community can be a bulwark against democratic backsliding.

Conditions to Flourish: Understanding the Ecosystem for Narrative Power

by Abi Knipe, The Global Narrative Hive

As a part of the Global Narrative Hive’s launch, a new report was released: Conditions to Flourish: Understanding the Ecosystem for Narrative Power (available in French, Portuguese, and Spanish). Based on hundreds of conversations the report, “paints a picture of the ecosystem of actors who are working to build narrative power in movements, as well as of the movements themselves. The picture shows different groupings — or kinds of actors — within this ecosystem, the interconnections between them and what they need to succeed.”

Launching the Reparations Narrative Lab

by Trevor Smith, LinkedIn

Liberation Ventures recently launched their first narrative program, The Reparations Narrative Lab (RNL), which in turn published the report There Are New Suns: Building A Transformative Narrative For The Black Reparations Movement and the schema the Narrative House. There’s a lot to dig into with these resources that “can help us collectively strengthen our language and understanding of repairing the pervasive ills of colonialism, imperialism, war, xenophobia, anti-Blackness, and all of the other harmful systems we’ve socially constructed.”

Finally, Moderate Republicans Will Have a Say

by Daniel Stid, Democracy

In this piece Daniel Stid explores what could happen if the House of Representatives was elected through a system of proportional representation and how that could support more moderate Republicans. Building off of the work that More In Common has done on political tribes, he lays out a compelling vision of a better functioning House of Representatives which could have knock-on effects on the Senate and the rest of the political system.


Interview: Countering Authoritarianism with Maria J. Stephan and V Fixmer-Oraiz

Brad Rourke’s Blog

Following a panel presentation at the recent National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) conference in Atlanta, Horizons’ Chief Organizer Maria Stephan explains the authoritarian playbook and especially how authoritarians use the tactics of divide and rule to pit groups against each other and engage in or encourage political violence. The second interviewee V Fixmer-Oraiz, a member of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors in Iowa and leader of the Iowa City Ad Hoc Truth and Reconciliation Commission, then describes how this playbook impacts local elected officials. They leave us all with the chilling question that V’s wife asked, “What should I do if . . . there’s an active shooter, do I take care of the children or do I take care of you?”

Creating New American Stories of Us: Can Storytellers Save America?

Bridging Entertainment Lab

Bridge Entertainment Labs (BEL) believes that “Storytellers can be the heroes America needs right now, dismantling the destructive ‘us versus them’ dynamics that are fueling our current political crisis and isolating Americans from one another. Storytellers can act as societal norm-shifters for how we engage across our differences, helping us imagine a shared democracy for an ideologically diverse, multiracial America.” Check out the launch of BEL’s “event series that explores entertainment’s potential to strengthen America’s social fabric and create a shared sense of ‘us’ as Americans.”

Living In the Metacrisis with Jonathan Rowson

In the Making Films

In this short video, Jonathan Rowson gives an insightful view of our current experience of “living in the metacrisis.” Rather than muddling through this era and passively observing the world around us, Jonathan sees this era as a natural process of renewal and a time where we can use our imaginations and where we have agency to form this next epoch in human life on Earth.


Baratunde Thurston — How to Be a Social Creative

On Being with Krista Tippett

“Baratunde Thurston is a comedian, writer, and media entrepreneur. He has eyes open to the contradictions, strangeness, and beauty of being human. He looks for learning happening even amidst our hardest cultural tangles. And he intertwines all of this, innovatively and searchingly, with his lifelong joy in the natural world. The kaleidoscopic view of life and love and the world that is Baratunde’s builds and builds in this conversation Krista had with him … towards an exuberant glimpse of how we can all be more fully human and socially creative.”

Rethinking Life: The Myth of the Hierarchal Value of Human Lives

Red Letter Christians Podcast

“Shane Claiborne continues his special series based on his newest book, Rethinking Life. In this episode, he talks about what it means when we say Black Lives Matter, what the value of life is, who determines it, and examines racism in Christianity.”

Democracy 2076: Shaping a Resilient Future for the United States

Revolutionary Optimism Podcast

Dr. Paul Zeitz interviews Aditi Juneja “as she shares her inspiring journey from the granddaughter of refugees to a leading democracy reformer. Discover how she’s dedicated her life to strengthening the United States’ democracy and transforming it for the better. Explore her visionary initiative, Democracy 2076, which aims to reshape the foundations of democracy, reimagine political storytelling in Hollywood, and prepare for the political realignment of the future. Get insights into the critical work of creating pro-democracy political parties that will shape the future of American politics. Don’t miss this thought-provoking discussion on the path to a resilient and inclusive democracy for 2076!”


Are you inspired to work for democracy and social justice? Check out these 2024 Fellowship opportunities. Whether you are an experienced social justice professional, an emerging leader, or a curious student, these fellowship programs offer tools and support to make a lasting impact on your community and beyond. Deadlines are fast approaching so check it out!